Governor “Green Lights” Zuck Bucks for Future NC Elections

Dec 10, 2021

Cooper Veto of SB 725 Invites Outside Election Funding

In response to grants from Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, which targeted mostly key Democrat counties in NC, the Legislature ratified SB 725, a measure that would have prevented such private funding in future elections. . . but Governor Cooper vetoed the bill yesterday, because (he said) the funding covered, “necessities such as masks, single-use pens and other protective equipment so voters stayed safe during the pandemic.”

That’s the spin, anyway.

The Center for Technology and Civic Life, which administered the grants, encouraged grant applications for capabilities far beyond disposable ink pens and personal protective equipment for poll workers. Among their suggested uses for counties seeking the CTCL’s “free” money, they include the innocuous program to “expand voter outreach and education efforts.”

The CTCL funding came from the nonprofit Zuckerberg co-founded, with his fellow Harvard-educated wife, Priscilla Chan.

Elaborating just a bit, they encourage counties to “publish reminders for voters to verify and update their address, or other voter registration information, prior to the election,” and to “educate voters on safe voting policies and procedures.”

All of this sounds reasonable until you consider the inequality associated with the grants. Only certain counties were given the  money and guess which party the bigger ones favored!

The Capital Research Center obtained some details on the “confirmed” allocations to counties in North Carolina, along with some analysis that correlated the funds with votes received in 2020’s presidential elections.

By comparing the votes cast in the targeted counties from the 2016 and 2020 elections, Capital Research Center’s Hayden Ludwig drew several conclusions. For example, he wrote, “across all CTCL-funded counties, Biden improved his turnout over Hillary Clinton’s 2016 performance by 255,125 votes, an increase of 25 percent. Trump increased his turnout in those same CTCL-funded counties by 170,519 (an 18 percent increase).”

To access CRC’s full analysis, click the above image.

Complaining about those grants could come across as the sore-loser effect, but the unequal distribution of this money paints a dangerous scenario.

For example, Republican strongholds, Johnston and Surry Counties received around a dollar for each vote cast in their jurisdictions, while CTCL gave Durham County $8.28 per-voter, or more than eight times as much as was spent to facilitate GOP voters.

Emerging Problems

There are several reasons to be concerned over this new path in politics.

First, those funds were not private donations to help political parties or candidates. as is the normal practice. These funds empowered government employees in selected counties to use their access to insider information–not available to political parties and candidates–to goose the votes for one side or the other. The net effect in NC, Ludwig said, was around 85,000 additional Democrat votes.

We wonder how large the Democrat tally will grow next time if the grantors can cut out a few deep-Republican counties while adding in Pitt, Forsyth, and Buncombe.

Second, what happens when more outside groups join the fun? Suppose the organization founded by the Koch Brothers decided to dump a few million into counties that are known for vast amounts of Republican voters. Or suppose the GOP-controlled Legislature targeted additional funds to election boards only in Republican counties.

Third, the pro-Democrat impact of Zuck Bucks has been widely documented in Pennsylvania, which might explain why the uber-leftist Democracy NC was so delighted over the veto.

Fourth , what happens when a foreign entity launders money through said non-profit organizations? Does anything prevent this type of outside influence?

Should this bother anybody?

While private funding to private groups is completely legal, leveraging the power of only a few election officials, seems dangerous. Remember: They have special access to personally identifying information that the rest of us cannot obtain. Now that the Left has cracked the code, we can expect to see even larger amounts of money flooding into counties with the deepest number of Democrats and Republicans might never again win a statewide race in North Carolina.

In effect, the outside pool of money is building a targeted, government-controlled, Democrat get-out-the-vote effort that destabilizes any sense of fairness that is critical for restoring public trust in the democratic process.

Solutions Anyone?

Since the Governor vetoed SB 725, it looks like passing a state law on the matter is off the table. But here are a few other possible  response options:

  1. The Legislature can override the veto. It would be nice if a few principled Democrats could be found in the NCGA, but this seems highly unlikely. Apparently “compromise” is only allowed in election law when it enhances electoral fraud, but never when the fraud is prevented.
  2. Lawfare. We’re not sure who is best positioned for this weapon, especially since our highly partisan Attorney General Josh Stein is certain to toe his party’s line. Still, opportunities abound in this arena. Besides, the Louisiana AG tried the legal route and faced a judge who threw the case out, because the plaintiff had “no cause of action.”
  3. Fully audit exactly how the recipient counties spent the money and publicize the results. Subsequent audits could reveal the opportunistic racketeering that was discovered by County Commissioners in Mississippi; or the possible illegal control over elections in Wisconsin; or how Loudon County’s original grant application claimed the money would go for PPE and instead when elsewhere. We like this option because more governmental entities can engage in it.

(For details, click this report from Influence Watch and search the terms made bold in the above paragraph.)

Bottom Line: We need to get the facts. If the NC Legislature has the courage of their convictions, they can launch a full-scale audit of how “Zuck Bucks” impacted 2020’s elections. If the politicians in Raleigh are too distracted for this task, then it’s up to local County Commissions to dig into the money one of their subordinate agency managed to obtain.

By auditing those books, the public will gain a greater understanding of the process and who knows? We might even uncover some corruption!


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